St Helens captain James Roby targets World Club return

James Roby. Picture: SWpix
James Roby. Picture: SWpix

St Helens captain James Roby has set himself the target of being fit for the Super League champions' World Club Challenge against Sydney Roosters as he continues his rehabilitation from groin surgery.

Roby was plagued by groin trouble for much of his team's title-winning season and will miss the opening game of 2020 against Grand Final runners-up Salford on January 31 after undergoing further surgery.

Saints have two more league games before they take on the Australian champions at the Totally Wicked Stadium on February 22 and Roby aims to be back in full flow by then.

"What a great opportunity it is for us to call ourselves world champions and, for me as captain I'd love nothing more than to get back for that game," he said at the club's pre-season media day.

"It's progressing well, as expected. I'll increase accordingly and see where we are. I'll probably miss the first game but should be alright after that."

Roby missed more than a third of the season in 2019 and, although he got back to play the last six games, culminating in that 23-6 win at Old Trafford, he says he was far from at his best.

"I struggled all year really with the groin injury," he said. "I think it affected my performances.

"I had surgery but it didn't really help. I had further surgery and now it actually feels like it's done the job."

The injury robbed Roby of a chance to add to his Great Britain caps but he has not ruled out making a return with England, who play Australia for the Ashes at the end of the season.

"If I'm picked on merit, I don't think I would ever turn down the chance because it might be my last chance," he said.

"I'm 35 at the end of this year. My priority is St Helens and, if that comes at the end of the year, it would be a massive bonus."

St Helens will also be without winger Tom Makinson for the start of the season after he underwent surgery for the shoulder he dislocated in the Grand Final but new coach Kristian Woolf expects him to be fit to face the Roosters.

"Tommy is going to need to see a doctor and get cleared to do some contact," Woolf said.

"Once he's cleared to do that, we will accelerate it fairly quickly and we'll get a better idea on when he'll be back."

Meanwhile, Roby has welcomed the club's decision not to add to the squad Woolf has inherited from Justin Holbrook.

"I really like the fact that we've not even looked elsewhere," he said. "It shows confidence in us as a group.

"This group is definitely capable as we've shown, so why can't we be capable again.

"Kristian is a great bloke. He's set high standards and high values which we are used to anyway but he's let us know straight away what's expected of us.

"He's changed up a few things here and there but nothing major. Hopefully we can pick up from where we left off."